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Title: Alternate paddle configuration for improved wear resistance in the saltstone mixer

The Saltstone Production Facility has a 10-inch Readco-Kurimoto continuous mixer that mixes the premix dry feeds and low-level waste salt solution to make fresh (uncured) saltstone. Inspection of the mixer in January 2013 showed significant wear on the third, fourth and fifth paddle pairs after the conveying augers. A 2-inch Readco-Kurimoto continuous mixer was used to test alternate paddle configurations for use in the 10-inch mixer to decrease the wear rate on the paddles. Two wear tests were conducted to investigate a method of reducing wear on the mixer paddles. The first test (wear test 2a) had a paddle configuration similar to the currently installed 10-inch mixer in the SPF. This test established baseline wear. The second test (wear test 2b) had a reconfigured paddle arrangement that replaced the flat paddles with helical paddles for paddle pairs 2 - 6 and aligned paddle pair 1 with the augers. The intent of the reconfiguration was to more effectively convey the partially wetted dry feeds through the transition region and into the liquid feed where paddle wear is reduced due to dry feeds and salt solution being mixed at the intended water to premix ratio. The design of the helical paddles providesmore » conveyance through the transition region to the liquid feed inlet. The alignment with the auger is aimed to provide a smoother transition (minimizing the discontinuity between the auger and paddle pair 1) into the downstream paddles. A soft metal with low wear resistance (6000 series aluminum) was used for the wear testing paddles to determine wear patterns while minimizing run time and maximizing wear rate. For the two paddle configurations tested using the scaled 2-inch Readco-Kurimoto continuous mixer, with the first six paddles after the augers replaced by the wear paddles and the remaining paddles were stainless steel. Since the 10-inch SPF mixer is designed with the liquid inlet centered over paddle pairs 5 and 6, the scaled 2-inch mixer was configured the same way. The wear rate from wear test 2a was approximately double the wear rate from wear test 2b for paddle pairs 4 and 5. For both configurations, there was little or no wear on paddle pairs 1, 2, 3 and 6 based on mass change, indicating that the un-wetted and fully wetted premix materials cause less wear than the partially wetted premix. Additionally, inspection of the wear surface of the paddles showed more deformation on the flat paddles than the helical paddles which was consistent with the wear rates. Aligning of the auger discharge flight with paddle pair 1 resulted in a lower wear rate paddle pair 1 rather than having them misaligned with the feed augers. During the paddle wear tests, polishing wear was observed on the inside barrel of the mixer. The polishing wear is evident on the upper housing clamshell and the lower housing clamshell primarily at paddle pairs 4 and 5, which is the transition region of the mixer. Wear on the mixer barrel increases the space between the paddles and the barrel, resulting in increased grout build up on the barrel. Since the mixer barrel cannot be reconfigured or replaced in the SPF, the method for mitigating wear on the barrel is to move the more viscous grout through the transition region as quickly as possible. In addition, the location of the liquid inlet does not allow for sufficient cleaning of the mixer since residual grout remains on paddle pairs 1 - 4. As the paddles continue to wear and the self-cleaning capability of the paddles is lost, the lack of sufficient flushing would aid in grout build up between the barrel and the paddles which could eventually lead to decreased throughput capacity of the dry feeds. Changing the paddle configuration from flat to helical resulted in no change to the rheological properties of the grout mixture. Both tests produced a grout that is within the processing range of the SPF. Based on the results of this testing, it is recommended for the currently installed SPF mixer that paddle pairs 1 through 6 be helical rather than flat, with the paddle pair 1 aligned with the feed augers in order to minimize the wear occurring in the SPF mixer. Based on the results of this testing, it is recommended that the mixer be inspected and critical measurements be taken whenever the SPF processing schedule allows in order to establish a wear rate of the 10-inch mixer paddles.5 Based on these measurements, the lifetime of paddles in the transition region can be established in order to set up a maintenance schedule for the mixer. Since replacing the entire mixer is very expensive and time intensive, replacing the worn paddles after a specific time period would allow for planned shutdowns as well as process optimization such that the mixer throughput is not compromised. In addition, further testing should be performed to determine an alternate liquid inlet location to better flush the mixer of residual grout at the end of processing. Sufficiently cleaning the mixer will help eliminate another potential source of wear. Another potential method for reducing the wear rate in the mixer is to reduce the mixer speed without affecting the throughput capacity. Since wear rate is a function of impact velocity of the grout and mixing paddles, testing could be done using the 2-inch mixer determine the optimum mixer speed to reduce wear but not adversely impact facility operations (e.g. throughput capacity and grout properties).« less
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  1. Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States). Savannah River National Lab. (SRNL)
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Technical Report
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Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States)
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United States